It isn’t everyday you get to meet one of your Sheroes.
Over the last few years I’ve been checking in to momastery.com to see what the funny as hell and tender hearted Glennon Doyle Metlon has to say about life. She, like me, is a storyteller, weaving wisdom and humility together with humor and candor. When i read her words, it feels like I’ve been sitting down for tea with a dear soul friend. And when I finish up with her words, it is always a little sad our time together is over.
Last summer, I read her book Carry On Warrior, which was a compilation of blog posts, the central theme of which was how to keep going. As this has become my mission since losing Isaac, not only to carry on, but also to write a book, it seems only natural that I would take great comfort in her pages. Whenever I am inspired by a woman’s art, I tend to look for workshops or videos. As fate would have it, I discovered back in November that she had a speaking engagement in January in Grand Rapids. I got tickets and eagerly anticipated the date.
This past Saturday, my mom and soul sista/sister in law Jenni, made the drive down in the first sunshine in far too long. Within 20 minutes of our journey, already talking up a storm, we happened upon two enormous and regal bald eagles sitting in a tree overlooking M-115. They were a sight for sore eyes, as eagle sightings were quite frequent for months and months after Isaac left us, but as of late, have been few and far between. My mouth could hardly keep up with my heart as I garbled out the words for my mom to pull over. As we got to the side of the road, we saw what they were scoping out; a deer that almost made it across the busy highway. I lurched out of the car and jogged down the road to get a better look at them. They were even more stunning and enormous up close. They let me come within about 100 feet before flying off majestically in opposite directions, which even in that breathless (from the jog & the awe) moment, I could not help but find apropos.
When we got back on the road, I felt again the pure light of God and Isaac shining in my heart and it made me even more excited for the evening ahead.
Once we arrived at Mars Hill Church in Grandeville, which looks to be a former shopping center converted into an overwhelmingly large & impressive worship center, we watched as over 1700 other women gathered. It was quite a site to behold. The “pulpit”, really more of a stage, was in the center of the auditorium with seating all around in an octagon, for rows and rows and rows. Over the stage was a “jumbo-tron” of announcements and in one, an offer to submit a question for Glennon to answer during the Q & A. I knew right away that I would ask, but I also knew right away that my question getting selected in a sea of women’s stories was a long shot.
As we sat waiting for the event to begin, I looked around the room and felt the power of women gathered around me and also, of course, the loudness that over 1700 women can make. It was a quiet roar. There was a moment, sitting there, taking it all in, where I said to myself “I have a feeling she is going to walk down my aisle”. It was silly, and I dismissed it as quickly as it came, but I felt it strongly. And then, she did. This oh so tiny yet oh so mighty woman walked right past me and up to the seating not far from me. (This happened when my sister and I went to see Madonna’s documentary at the State Theater in TC, too, but that is another story about another tiny but might warrior woman). After she was introduced, she commanded the attention of that crowd instantly. We were all drawn into her adorable, honest, and articulately long winded conversation. She spoke about struggle, strife, and joy with equal conviction. She gave us some encouragement for the weary world we inhabit, including how to help the children of Flint’s water issues and Detroit’s schools. She shared, unabashedly, the good the bad & the ugly. She had us in stitches and tears simultaneously. She showed us how to show up and tell the truth. It was good medicine.
When the question and answer portion of the evening began, I listened intently as she answered a few, one in particular, which was actually about divorce, which she gave great advice for allowing grief. Sitting with it and not fixing it, even when you have no idea what to do. Sit with it and do the laundry for the one who is grieving. It was so good. I felt as though even though my question would likely not be selected, that I was given something perfect in its place. When the woman asking our questions to Glennon got to the second to last question, we were all laughing at the inimitable little Glennon who just lit up the room with a very frank and funny answer. And then the moderator got very quiet and said “okay, we are going to swiftly switch gears for this last question” and I had a feeling, a little spark before she asked my question.
“Brave Compassionate Girl Glennon– I’m trying so hard to be brave after losing my 18 yr old son to suicide one year ago. Can you please make any suggestions for Carrying On when the world no longer makes sense? Thank you for sharing your gifts–“. The room, the very large room that had seconds previously been full of laughter and almost a vibrating buzz, suddenly dimmed to near silence. Glennon took a deep breath, as I held mine and it was the first moment all night where she seemed…at a loss for words. And then she talked about how the world sometimes sees suicide as selfish but that nothing could be further from the truth; she compared making the choice to take your life as akin to Syrian refugees choosing to risk fleeing into the ocean rather than stay on the land they were living in. And then she said “I have a feeling this mama is a brave warrior woman and wherever that beautiful little boy is now, he loves you and he is at peace and I cannot tidy this up and make it cute or pretty because there are no words, there is no advice, but I can sit here and hold your hand sister”. And fuck, if I didn’t want to stand up in front of those 1700+ women and run into her arms. Or at least say Thank You. But instead I just let my tears fall, let my mom rub my back, let the love and the sadness and the truth just be there with me, with all of us. And I felt as I did with the eagles, Isaac saying there there mama. As I often do if I pay attention.
This isn’t getting easier. Easier isn’t the word. I still want to scream forever. But in the words of my silly teenager beautiful boy, the words that used to make me roll my eyes and want more because, I love words! In his words, It Is What It Is. No one can make it better or easier. And I appreciate that just as much as I agonize over it.
I had a roller coaster of emotions last week and the lows can be pretty bleak. The highs feel a little unstable, off kilter, and way too short. There are so many more days I wanted with Isaac, and if I’m brutally honest, there are also many more days I wanted with the self that I was before all of this.
But it is what it is and I am carrying on, working on the warrior part.
With Love & Gratitude